When God is Silent

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” – John 11:5-6

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

Have you ever noticed how loud silence can be?


Earlier this week I traveled to a conference hosted in an area I didn’t know well, so of course, I let Google lead me where I needed to go.


It’s a cool little app, I just enter my destination, push start and the mysterious lady inside my phone directs me onward.


I cruised along the highway in total confidence; trusting my way completely to the woman in my phone. After 20 miles of silence she piped up and told me to take the next exit in a half mile. Obedient and grateful she was still there, I did what she said.


Once I took the exit, she said to drive for a mile and a half and then turn left. I drove on in cheerful faith.


And on, and on, and on. I must have gone a mile and a half by now, I thought to myself as mild panic started to set in. I was certain I had traveled far enough, yet when I expected the woman in my phone to let me know when the turn was coming, all I got was silence.


“Hello? I don’t know where I’m going!” I shouted at my phone as if it would respond like a real person.


I was convinced I had driven the right distance. Where was her reminder to turn? Did I miss something? The silence was heavy and disturbing.


Have you ever felt that way with the Lord?


You’ve traveled, hung on, and sacrificed your own wants and needs, but silence is your only companion.


You’ve walked in obedience and faithfulness, and in blind trust you wake each morning, pull up your bootstraps, and carry on another day, yet silence is the baggage waiting at the door.


You’re certain you’ve traveled long enough.


You look up to the heavens and shout “God, where are You?” and in your misery you plead like David once did:


I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.” (Psalms 28:1)


The silence in your soul is deafening.


I did make it to the conference, and the lady in my phone did her job. Interestingly, one of the classes I attended while at the conference was called Traveling in Silence.


I guess God wanted to teach me, so here’s what I learned:


In His silences, we get a chance to glorify Him.


“But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’” (John 11:4)


A sacrifice on our part is often required when God uses us for His glory. He may ask us to give up finances, time, an unhealthy relationship, or a bad habit. He may also ask us to suffer with an illness, adversity, or misfortune for His glory.


God knew of Lazarus’s suffering, yet he waited, in silence, before He went to him.


“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:5-6) (emphasis mine)


The question is … will we remain satisfied in the Lord through His silence, and our sufferings, for the benefit of His glory?


“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” – John Piper


When God is silent, there’s always a reason and a right response.


Trust can change in an instant. I trusted the app on my phone until its silence held longer than I thought it should. When it didn’t respond, my confidence in its ability was shattered.


What happens when God’s silence lingers? Do we lose trust in His abilities too?


And couldn’t that be the very thing He’s teaching us – to trust Him through His silences?


“So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.’” (John 11:14-15)


There are two ways we can respond when God is silent.


We can respond with anger, doubt, or confusion:


“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (John 11:8)


Or we can respond with faith, trust, and humility:


“When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him … Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11:21-22)


The choice is always ours.


Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’” (John 11:25-26)


How about you? Will you trust Him through the deep, dark silences AND His sun-swept songs?


And there’s one more thing …


Maybe God is trusting YOU with His silences!


“When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest


I think the more we live the victorious life God designed for us, the more silent He’ll become. We’ll share an abiding and intimate relationship where few words are needed.


So how about it?


“Will you trust me in the silences, child of Mine?”


Resources for you:

God’s Silence— Then What? by Oswald Chambers


What to Remember When God is Silent – Relevant Magazine:


Unanswered Prayers: Why God Remains Silent by Charles Stanley

2 Replies

  1. jeunique

    Thank you so much for your post. God knows I needed to read this today. These scriptures, your words and inspiration has given me some more encouragement through my journey. May God bless you more abundantly and keep you.

  2. I always find your message to be encouraging even at the lowest point in my life i love God and theres no doubt he loves me. Im in pain and it hurts ive repented ive even pleaded with God to show me e what ive done wrong they that wait on the lord shall renew their strenght keep me in pray

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